A HEROIC husband was injured as he saved his pregnant wife from being mauled by a “jealous” bear at a Russian circus.
The woman – scratched and floored by the wild beast – was identified today as Lia Baspanova.
She had claimed that the male Himalayan bear called Stepan may have been “jealous” that she was expecting a child, triggering the sudden attack in front of screaming children in the Russian city of Oryol.
It was her husband Alexey Velker, 34, another trainer, who dragged the predator away from his wife.
In doing so he suffered worse wounds than she did. The bear gnawed his right arm and he needed stitches on the lacerated cuts and blood vessels.
Both required hospital treatment but were later discharged.
The bear from travelling circus Grand will not perform again after the attack.
Prosecutors are checking footage of the incident and could press criminal charges against the circus organisers.
Baspanova is seen wearing a bright blue dress as the bear attacks her.
A witness said the male bear did not back off despite “blows with a whip”.
“I literally have two scratches and a slight bruise on my leg,” the female trainer said.
“With the animal, too, everything is fine, and my baby, all is normal.”
Baspanova said: “Perhaps it was jealousy to some extent, since I am pregnant.
“There can be many nuances. I will, of course, deal with this incident with more experienced colleagues.
“At the moment, the bear behaves to me the same way as usual.
“It behaves affectionately and fondly again as if nothing happened.”
One report said the trainer and bear had “hugged and made up” after the attack.
Locals said they had seen Stepan – earlier identified as a brown bear but now said to be Himalayan – in a cage before the show.
It appeared in an agitated and disturbed state.
“The same predator attacked one of the employees and wanted to escape,” FAN reported.
“Passersby said it was in a cage in the backyard and was acting restlessly.”
Russia has seen several shocking circus incidents involving performing animals in recent months.
Irina Novozhilova, of animal rights group VITA, has called for the prohibition of all circuses with live animals, which remain popular across Russia.
“No circus conditions will be humane for one simple reason,” she said.
“Training goes hand in hand with cruelty.
“Circuses are always cruel beyond limits. And circuses with animals should be banned.”